Israel began today to mass forces on the border of the Gaza Strip as the security cabinet met for the fourth consecutive day to discuss Israel’s response to the murder of three abducted students and a sharp escalation in recent days of rocket fire from Gaza.
The option of a significant military strike, which seemed a strong possibility earlier in the week, appeared to decline sharply after a Palestinian youth was abducted before dawn in east Jerusalem Wednesday and murdered. …
However, the incessant rocket fire that continued today has moved the option back onto the agenda. The Israeli press reported the shifting of artillery units to the Gaza area and Palestinians reported a tightening naval cordon off Gaza’s coast.
Officials in Jerusalem have made it clear that Israel would prefer to avoid a confrontation in Gaza, which could easily escalate into a ground war that would also see the firing of missiles into the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
“Quiet will be met with quiet,” said a military official. “We are not undertaking large scale mobilization.” However, that comment suggests that a small scale mobilization is underway and appears to be a muted warning to Hamas that unless it halts the firing of dozens of rockets from Gaza every day Israel will be obliged to seek a military solution.